Skip to main content

tv   [untitled]    September 19, 2010 11:30pm-12:00am EDT

11:30 pm
show. c. c.
11:31 pm
that's coming up in just a moment. hungry for the full story we've got it for. the biggest issues get a human voice face to face with the news makers. every month we give you the future we help you understand how we'll get there and what tomorrow brings you the best in science and technology from across russia and around the world join acknowledging update on our jeep. and you can. stand.
11:32 pm
alone and welcome to cross talk i'm peter lavelle our islam and democracy incompatible why are the overwhelming majority of muslim populated countries governed by either nondemocratic regimes are unstable democracies and does the west have the right to determine what democracy is. critical. to discuss the compatibility of islam and democracy i'm joined by azzam tamimi in amman he is director of the institute of islamic political fock in denver we go to nader how she me he's an assistant professor of middle east and islamic politics at the university of denver in washington we cross to michele dunne she's a senior associate at the carnegie endowment for international peace also in washington we have stephen suliman schwartz he's the executive director for the center of islamic pluralism and another member of our cross talk team yell on the
11:33 pm
hunger all right folks cross talk rules and in fact we got a lot of people today got a full field but jump in if you want to make a comment here first of all i'd like to go to nate are in denver. we're told that the islamic world that it's in canton that they're just they can't. democracy . it is it's against their religious traditions against their history itself but i would turn it upside down i think they're probably grasping for democracy know exactly what it is and they're simply denied it do you agree or disagree with that statement. i would broadly agree with that they're denied it largely by the ruling and corrupt elites that rule over most muslim societies i think it's fair to say that there is a deep rooted and widespread desire for democracy and human rights and a lot of good polling that sort of suggests this but i think broadly speaking the problem with respect to democratization in the muslim world is that the social conditions some of them internal but many of them external have not been conducive
11:34 pm
to the development of democracy so i think if one wants to you know answer the question objective lee one has to look at all of the relevant variables that impact on democratization and if one does that one will see that islam is simply one factor but in my view not the most determining factor in explaining the persistence of authoritarianism in the absence of democracy in large parts of the muslim world today ok stephen if i can go to you in washington would you agree with i'm i mean it has nothing to do with religion it's all about conditions on the ground and history well there's nothing in koran that says how people should be governed there's nothing in a of the sacred texts of the religion that prescribe what type of government what type of rulers fuel should live under what type of system political system people should participate in i think the burden is the burden of history and the burden of history is reflected in the fact that. islam developed for historical reasons
11:35 pm
more than eastern in the geographically eastern direction into societies that had a long history of despotism and that this despotism was supported by. what we call many muslims called the curse of excessive wealth in the past you had the silk road you had monopolistic control of a spice gold the slave roots and today you have oil and excessive wealth has retarded the progress of democracy in those countries the elites in many muslim countries. are corrupt and they are holding back the development of popular sovereignty but on the other hand we look at the example of iran it's very clear that the people of iran are anxious to get rid of this. anti-democratic and really have a humanist they as i humanistic clerical dictatorship so i don't i don't see islam as in any way at obstacle democracy to democracy and i think in some respects
11:36 pm
elements of islam can promote popular sovereignty and of ocracy ok michelle what role does the west play in all of this because it's patently obvious that you know while the united states and its allies preach democracy invade countries to spread democracy at least they claim that but at the same time they do support these really terrible regimes in the middle east and you know even on mainstream media it's kind of taboo to be too hard on the saudis and things like that because there are our allies you know but a lot of the money that goes to terrorism comes from a place like saudi arabia i mean isn't the west really is an incumbent upon the west to be the end these kind of double standards i mean either want to mock or see or just stop talking about it. well i think it's true that the west has played a very deleterious role and it goes way back in fact if we go back into the nineteenth century i think another one of the factors for the lack of democracy particularly in the middle east was european colonialism and the negative effects
11:37 pm
of that that have lingered on to this day and people reacting to that i think one of the reasons we're even having this discussion is that there's been a growth of political islam as to movements and that some of them have either been been anti democratic or or at least have seemed anti democratic and that's partly because they're still reacting to the influence of the west you know from the heritage of european colonialism to what you're talking about today peter the relationship of western governments the united states europe and others with the governments in the middle east in the sense that there's been a kind of a devil's bargain that as long as these governments would cooperate with us on things like getting oil out of the region and perhaps in peacemaking with israel that we would look certainly look the other way for human rights abuses and lack of political liberties and so forth that's begun to change
11:38 pm
a little bit i think over the last ten years or so in the united states in europe we see some ambivalence about this certainly since the nine eleven terrorist attacks in the united states has this really worked out well for the west ok some if i go to you in amman i mean there is the double standards of bound mean we have a democratically elected government in gaza we have hezbollah that participates in lebanese politics and irrespective of what your attitude is towards the any republican republic of iran they do have a form of democracy if you don't if you respect if you like it or not isn't that really just a double standard i mean when you know muslims arabs muslims practice democracy then it's the nine by the west because that's not democracy they accept because it's not in the geopolitical interest of the united states and its allies that's pure hypocrisy would you agree with that. absolutely and it is. strange in the sense that although islamic walkmans have proven
11:39 pm
to. want to be part of a democratic process and have been the victims of the lack of the market there is asian we continue to hear people accuse islamic movements or these movements of its lack of political islam of being the democratic i think the major obstacle to democratization in the muslim world today as we stand in this very moment is the united states of america. and their allies in the west because they are the ones who count on and rely entirely on regimes that are this partake that are corrupt and simply because these regimes so of their best interests democracy in our part in this part of the world is not in favor of the best interests as seen by those who are in power in washington and in the major capitals of western europe ok if i could go back to denver nader if if let's say in an
11:40 pm
imaginary world really imaginary that all of these these dictatorships that are so close to the united states and vice versa there of you know it's close and if we had open free unshredded elections do you think radical islamic movements would come to power instantly across the greater middle east. i'm not radical i think many of the mainstream political islamist movements would come to power in the early elections but over time if your hypothetical scenario were to take place i think over time. most slums within the broader muslim world will have the opportunity to engage in a debate that is largely denied to them right now about the type of society that they want to live in what form of religion how much religion they want in their government. and so i think you know one has to understand the question of democracy as a long term historical process there is this myth that somehow democracy can be achieved
11:41 pm
in a fortnight. and so there's this concern that you have these elections and then you have these you know liberal groups that come to power but i think that's perfectly understandable and reasonable if one has a sense of history in terms of how democracy developed i mean in the united states or in the west you know people didn't all of a sudden one day wake up and they were you know liberal and democratic there is a long historical process of internal debate and transformation that all societies have to go through the muslim world included and and i think in many ways the muslim world is just at the beginning of this process and as i said and i would agree with them western policy has i think prevented the development of internal political transformations largely because democratization in the muslim world would lead to a set of political outcomes that would clash with longstanding western strategic interest in the region i think that's the fundamental problem is even if you kind of they said like a. stop rules go ahead michelle jump in i jump in here ok michele jump in first you
11:42 pm
go first and then we'll go to i am i actually agree with not what matters said but i just want to add something about how this is seen in washington i think there's a sense in washington in american policy circles that the middle east is such a risky place it's so brittle american interests there are so vital that. an official sometimes are unwilling to take the kind of risks that natter described you know to kind of go with you know the fact that an islamist government like the hamas government was elected that might not you know initially at least might not go along with american and western interests in the region and that's the debate that that goes on in washington now you know should we sort of try to limit the risks as much as possible and therefore not not encourage rapid change on the other hand other people argue that you know this situation can only go on so long and if the united states doesn't stand in favor of reform now that more drastic changes
11:43 pm
will happen later ok stephen you want to jump in there real quick before we go to the break i'd like to first point out let's let's not play games here hamas was elected hamas is not a democracy in gaza hamas is a terroristic dictatorship in gaza hamas kills its political rivals in gaza hamas forces reactionary or else the day when i was i was in the years i was out with the help of the israelis united states to come to a coup against that within our zaha me and our history long in our history how much are they sent straight to are and i don't mean to cut you off here but when i do it and i'll come back to you after the break stephen i'll come back to you after the break after a short break we'll continue our discussion on democracy in the islamic world stay with r.t. . if you. still . want.
11:44 pm
are. going to. come back. we'll have a rally will sell lots of beer will. they will wear uniforms that will damage is down the black and them moving but very little damming to white. and they are the key to our problem our own right. hungry for the full story we've gone to. the biggest issues get
11:45 pm
a human voice face to face with the news make us. feel. welcome back to crossfire gang peter lavelle remind you we were discussing of democracy can thrive in islam. but before let's see what russians think about democracy what is democracy
11:46 pm
considered by many to be end of western society it is a loosely defined as a political system where the majority of rules but what do russians believe to be at democracies core according to a recently about a set of poll thirty nine percent connect democracy with economic prosperity in a country thirty eight percent believe freedom of speech and religion is fundamental to democracy lawfulness and direct elections were high on russians democratic wish list and only seven percent associated democracy guaranteed minorities rights back to peter ok stephen we were talking about the nature of democracy in the in the greater middle east and it is one in general do you believe there is such a thing as an islamic democracy is that there is there such a concept. there are muslim democracies clearly indonesia is one bangladesh is one that's even more vibrant but i do want to finish my point about hamas go ahead
11:47 pm
hamas does not do what it does in terms of violence against muslims because of anything that had to do with the united states or the palestinian authority it was elected because people were tired of the corruption of the palestinian authority but hamas does what it does because hamas has an extremist reactionary ideology that it's always had and if you want to look at a country with a thriving democratic movement and a regime that can hardly be blamed on the united states and israel look at iran iran has a democratic movement that is attempting to remove a clerical dictatorship and i think that anybody who thinks that that clerical dictatorship was put in place to serve u.s. and israeli interests is frankly insane the iranian clerical dictatorship. is a product of iranian history and the iranian people are now sick of that
11:48 pm
dictatorship and want to get rid of it but why one can't blame the atrocities against the iranian people in iraq today and after last year's election on the united states except for the fact that the united states failed to actively support the democratic ok let me if i could go to michelle here michelle what why should why should be the united states getting and being involved in or want to be involved in the democratic process of another country like iran for example ok you may not like the outcome but that is you know what is why should the united states be so judge mental about the nature of the democracy in iran in other places i mean sure and you know you may not like it but that's the outcome but it's the choice of the people want it because it's down to ok i'll show you my cards i mean a lot of iranian regime that i'm talking to me showing talking to michelle regime i'm talking to a show right now ok but show i mean is it really because it's not a western liberal democracy that is just like us because that's what he gets to
11:49 pm
when he gets into the greater middle east do you agree or disagree with that. well i would disagree i mean i think first of all. the promotion of democracy i mean the united states is founded on the idea that that democracy is the best political system for ensuring the rights of both the majority and the minority in a country and so forth but that there can be many different translations it certainly doesn't have to be the particular american brand of democracy this has been part of u.s. foreign policy that that somehow in the world the united states would be trying to promote the growth of democracy and the growth of human rights it's been part of u.s. foreign policy from the beginning and i would say particularly in the last century or so with woodrow wilson it's been exercised very inconsistently and unevenly in different parts of the world and i think the middle east and is probably the the last part of the world where the united states has just started to try to make this
11:50 pm
part of its foreign policy over the last ten twenty years or so and it applies you know in different ways to even governments that are friendly with the united states look at egypt i mean egypt is very friendly country to the united states friendly government but it's a. gamble but it's a dictatorship that's as if it was authoritarian system dictated and the united states has struggled and is struggling now i think with you know how do we cooperate with the egyptian government on things like arab israeli peace and regional stability while also somehow you know promoting those within egypt to you know who want to bring about democratic change ok so it's a dilemma for the united states how to do both of these things because it is not realistic it's not just going to. go ahead in denver go ahead yeah i mean i think the united states knows perfectly well that those forces within egypt that are democratic if they come to power they will adopt policies that will clash with
11:51 pm
longstanding us in true. in the region for example if there is a free and fair election in egypt most likely the muslim brotherhood would come to power and the first thing that they would do is open that border with gaza and try and rescue the people who are in cage there the united states would have a huge problem on its hands in terms of the arab israeli conflict so i think it's pretty clear that you know the united states fundamentally struggles with this question of democracy because it knows that greater democracy greater democracy in the middle east is not conducive with support for western interests in the region and that has been a longstanding issue going right back to you know world war two and when you know the popular nationalist forces were pursuing policies similar to religious nationals forces today and i think there is there's a lot of i think clarity on this question if one looks at the problem objective look as if i can go to you and i don't know we haven't gone to we haven't really got to we've only been once just real quickly and it seems to me theoretically again i mean the united states is afraid of democracies that will be anti-democratic and that was shatter shatter the illusion this. missed that the
11:52 pm
united states says that democracies will always be friendly with each other this would shatter that myth because you could have democratic regimes in this part of the world but would not necessarily adopt american policy or be accepting of it because it wouldn't be in their national interest that's i think that's a reality on the ground that they're afraid of well yes that that's part of the story but we have even more recent story unfolding the word democracy has actually become a dirty word in much of the arab world because the united states of america has waged wars on afghanistan on and supports is a witches and a part of the democracy a democracy exclusively for the oppressive community that stole the lands of the palestinians and because of this when this is done in the name of democracy and when israel is hailed as the only democracy in the reason when it is a war criminal then the word democracy becomes
11:53 pm
a dirty word and not. many people think much of democracy although as a matter of principle democracy as a system of government is a good system not the best but it is a good system to show you when to jump in there i'd like to. do first of all record were guarding what as i'm just sad with all due respect i think he's way out of date on this i agree there is a lot of opposition to u.s. actions especially the invasion of iraq and so forth but there has been extensive polling that has shown that that really doesn't translate into a dislike for democracy that support for the idea of democracy and democracy in their own countries is growing throughout the arab world this is particularly true among younger people people who are have grown up using the internet and watching satellite t.v. t.v. in a much more open environment i think that kind of attitudes that he's discussing are
11:54 pm
primarily those you know among older people and so forth i really i don't think that expresses the prevailing sentiment today and a kora regarding what matters said about if the muslim brotherhood came to power in egypt and so forth i think that you know i mean if the muslim brotherhood were to come to power were to open the border in gaza then gaza becomes not a huge problem for the united states but a huge problem for egypt it's a huge national security problem for egypt to have to take on the burden of gaza that's exactly what the israelis would like egypt to do is is relieve them of the burden of gaza so i think a lot of these issues are far more. complicated and peter just on one thing you said that the united states you know tries to say that democracies will always be friendly with each other it isn't quite that i think the theory is that democracies generally don't go to war with each other not that they will always agree ok fair enough fair enough stephen did you want to jump in there have been here we have
11:55 pm
been here go right ahead and i just want to save. no no no you know one thing we're going to see we'll see is that they go ahead which they could go ahead later going ok at the very very very very quickly let me bring turkey into the discussion here you know the west and the united states was very supportive of the democratization process in turkey until relatively recently when turkey started to assert itself and to pursue policies that were widely popular within turkey but that clash with longstanding western interests in the region i'm speaking specifically with the question of the situation in jazz and the israel palestine conflict recalled just a few months ago all of the editorials the commentary about who lost turkey why is turkey doing this you know turkey's democratization process in the western in the west interest i think a similar process in a similar debate i mean that fundamentally speaks to the point that i was making with respect to egypt the greater democratization in the middle east will result in a fundamental clash on certain policies that the west has long step that has
11:56 pm
pursued for a very long time and i think that's that that's really the core of the issue with respect to u.s. policy and i hope we can change i don't think it's a dead end street but i think if you if you just reflect for a moment on recent developments in turkey with respect to its relationship to israel and the situation in gaza this picture becomes quite clear go ahead stephen you want to jump in there sorry go right ahead i sank first of all the theme here was supposed to be a slam of democracy not how can we use islam and democracy to bash the united states but secondly you know we've been discussing at least most of us here have been discussing abstractions and we've been discussing things happening in turkey and things happening in egypt where i have to my shock heard the muslim brotherhood described as democratic when the buzz of brotherhood is not democratic it's anti-democratic let's talk about a country that has a very large mass movement demanding the overthrow of a vicious clerical dictatorship and it's not a matter of whether i like it it's
11:57 pm
a matter of whether the people that are ruled by it like it and that. the country of iran and in the country of iran what we are saying is that the people themselves are in we're in protest and revolt and rebellion against the clerical dictatorship and it seems to me that the the obvious responsibility and duty of the united states should be to assist the iranian people in getting rid of that clerical dictate i'm going to have to enter trial and i'm going to have that job and here we run out of time on a closing note all i can say is i think united states should look to people on the ground to decide what democracy is in the greater middle east many thanks to our guests today in amman denver and washington and thanks to our viewers for watching us here at r.t. see you next time and remember cross-talk rules.
11:58 pm
11:59 pm


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on